Cable giants Comcast and Charter Communications unveiled on Wednesday that they have formed a 50:50 joint venture “to develop and offer a next-generation streaming platform on a variety of branded 4K streaming devices and smart TVs, providing consumers with a world-class user experience and navigation, all the top apps and more choice in the streaming marketplace.”
The venture will offer app developers, streamers, retailers, operators and hardware manufacturers “the opportunity to reach customers in major markets across the country with the platform,” they said. The goal is to “give consumers a state-of-the-art streaming experience to access their favorite apps, based on Comcast’s Flex (streaming) product, which currently delivers all the most-watched streaming apps in the marketplace.”
The new venture’s focus on nationwide services is key, because cable operators have traditionally been restricted by technology to offering services in regions where they have deployed their infrastructure.
Comcast, led by chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, will license its aggregated streaming platform Flex and hardware to the joint venture, plus contribute Xumo, a streaming service it acquired in 2020, and the retail business for XClass TVs. Charter will make an initial financial contribution of $900 million, funded over multiple years.
The venture’s products “will feature hundreds of free content choices through Xumo, a free, ad-supported service currently delivering more than 200 unique streaming channels,” the partners said. NBCUniversal’s streamer Peacock will also be featured on the new streaming platform, “alongside other popular apps.”
The joint venture “does not involve the broadband or cable video businesses of either Comcast or Charter, which will remain independent,” the companies emphasized. The closing of the venture is “subject to customary closing conditions,” they added.
“We’re thrilled to partner with Charter to bring this platform and its award-winning experience to millions of new customers,” said Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson. “These products are all designed to make search and discovery across live, on-demand and streaming video seamless and incredibly simple for consumers. This partnership uniquely brings together more than a decade of technical innovation, national scale and new opportunities to monetize our combined investment.”
“Our new venture will bring a full-featured operating platform, new devices, and smart TVs with a robust app store providing a more streamlined and aggregated experience for the customer,” said Tom Rutledge, Charter chairman and CEO. “As the video landscape continues to evolve, this venture will increase retail consumer options, compete at scale with established national platforms and join our existing lineup of options for the Spectrum TV App available on most customer-owned streaming devices.”